Metro-area teen drivers revel in summer racing season

  • Article by: RON HAGGSTROM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 10, 2013 - 6:45 AM

Summer is the high season for metro-area teen race drivers, many of whom already have years of experience behind the wheel. They do it for the fun and, just maybe, a future.

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Matthew Ostdiek checked the inflation level of one of his racing tires.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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It’s tough enough for inexperienced drivers to make a name for themselves on the state’s auto racing circuit. Imagine what it’s like for a high school-aged driver.

Jack Purcell is one who has run the gamut at both Elko Speedway and Raceway Park in Shakopee. The 17-year-old will be a senior at Bloomington Jefferson High School this fall.

“The first thing you have to do is earn the respect of the other drivers,” Purcell said. “They are all like, ‘What are you doing here?’ ”

Here’s a look at four metro-area teenagers who, unlike most of their varsity sports-playing peers, look forward to summer as their season to race and not relax.

Young at heart

Collin Olson of Hugo will turn 15 later his month. He has been racing since he was 7, three years after driving a four-wheeler for the first time.

“My dad [Al] thought it would be safer if I had a cage around me,” Olson said. “He got me started off in quarter midgets,” a division of racing for smaller cars with drivers usually ranging from 5 to 16 year old.

Olson still races in the quarter midget division as well as Winged Micro Sprints at St. Croix Valley Raceway in St. Croix Falls, Wis., and Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis. He is in second place in the Winged Micro Sprints points standings.

“I like to race as much as I can,” Olson said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

He eventually would like to race in the Super Late Model division because “it’s the closest to NASCAR,” he said. The NASCAR circuit would be a dream come true for Olson.

“I would love to be a NASCAR driver,” said Olson, who will be a sophomore at White Bear Lake this fall. “But we really don’t have the money to do that.”

Family affair

Racing is in the blood of the Ostdiek family in Lakeville. It has now trickled down to Matthew and Michael.

The brothers currently race in two different divisions, so they can both drive car No. 40. It’s in honor of their late uncle, Dwain Behrens.

Their grandfather, John Ostdiek, owned Elko Speedway and Raceway Park. Their maternal grandfather, Larry Behrens, raced in the Midwest.

“Racing has been in our family a long time,” said Matthew, who recently graduated from Lakeville North. Michael is entering his junior year at the school. They both got their starts as quarter midget drivers.

Matthew, the 2011 driver of the year at Elko Speedway, is racing Super Late Models. At age 14, he became the youngest driver to win a Great North Legends feature event at the track in 2009.

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